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52-year-old striker Miura extends contract for 35th season

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One of the longest careers in soccer has been extended after 52-year-old striker Kazuyoshi Miura signed a contract with J-League club Yokohama FC on Saturday.

Miura, who will turn 53 on Feb. 26, will enter his 35th season this year.

Miura played in just three matches last year and did not score any goals but extended his record as the oldest player in the J-League.

Miura joined Yokohama FC in 2005 and in March of 2017 became the oldest player to appear in a professional match at the age of 50 years and seven days, catching global media attention by surpassing England legend Stanley Matthews’ longevity record.

Nicknamed “King Kazu,” Miura played for Brazilian club Santos and in Italy with Genoa earlier in his career, and represented Japan’s national team 89 times, scoring 55 goals.

Yokohama FC open the season on Feb. 23 against Vissel Kobe.

Giovinco, Gomes lead Al-Hilal to Asian Champions League title

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Familiar names Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco are now Asian Champions League winners after Al-Hilal outlasted Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 Sunday, giving the Saudi Arabia club its third ACL title with a 3-0 aggregate victory.

Gomis (goal) and Giovinco (assist) were involved in the scoring, with the latter setting up Saudi Arabia international Salem Al-Dawsari for the opener.

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It’s Al-Hilal’s first crown since 2000, the Saudi side re-joining Pohang Steelers as the most successful club in the competition.

Japanese side Urawa was bidding to win its third title and second in three years.

Former Watford man Andre Carrillo scored in the 1-0 first leg.

Copa America roundup: Uruguay tops Chile; Full knockout bracket

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Ecuador and Japan drew to allow Paraguay to sew up the final knockout round spot, sending Miguel Almiron and Co. into a match-up with Brazil.

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And Uruguay rode Edinson Cavani’s goal into the other side of the bracket, moving ahead of Chile in a tight match.

Ecuador 1-1 Japan

There was a lot to like in a match with 30-plus shots and the ultimate prize of a match-up with Brazil on Thursday in Porto Alegre.

Shoya Nakajima put the Asian side ahead a quarter-hour into the match, but Angel Mena provided an equalizer before halftime to put both sides in danger of failure to reach the knockout rounds.

Chile 0-1 Uruguay

Cavani scored for the second time this tournament as Uruguay claimed first place in Group A and a knockout round meeting with Peru.

Cavani’s deftly flicked header of a Jonathan Rodriguez pass pushed Uruguay above Chile, which had won both of its group matches and now meets Colombia on Friday.

Knockout round schedule

June 27
Brazil v. Paraguay

June 28
Venezuela v. Argentina
Colombia v. Chile

June 29
Uruguay v. Peru

July 2
Brazil/Paraguay v. Venezuela/Argentina
Colombia/Chile v. Uruguay/Peru

July 6
Third place playoff

July 7
Final

Copa America: Guests Japan, Qatar still alive ahead of group finales

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn’t seem to please some of their South American opponents.

Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals.

If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup.

Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0.

“We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing,” Qatar’s Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. “Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding.”

After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez’s contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi.

“It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina,” Sanchez said. “It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage.”

The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year’s Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020.

Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel is particularly upset with Japan’s decision to bring its Olympic team.

“I do not agree that a guest like Japan gives due importance to its participation by coming with players that are mostly under 23,” Dudamel said Saturday after Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and qualified to the quarterfinals of Copa America.

“I raise my voice and say Copa America needs to be only for South American teams,” he added. “We have not seen South American teams be invited to the African Cup of Nations, tournaments in Europe… We have to respect the hierarchy that we have historically built.”

The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001.

Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn’t like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America.

“Playing among all American teams, that is logic,” Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. “We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams.”

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America.

“We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup,” Tabarez said.

Watch Live: Uruguay takes on Copa America visitors Japan

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Uruguay looks to continue its hot start to the 2019 Copa America when they take on tournament guests Japan in Porto Alegre.

A hot first half saw Uruguay down Ecuador 4-0 in its opener and positioned the South American giants well in Group C alongside fellow 4-0 winners Chile. A Uruguay win tonight and Chile win tomorrow against Ecuador would see both sides clinch spots in the knockout stage.

[ WATCH LIVE: Uruguay vs. Japan on Telemundo Deportes ]

Manager Oscar Tabarez has made one change to his starting lineup against Japan, installing Arsenal midfielder Lucas Torreira in place of Matias Vecino who will miss the rest of the Copa America with a thigh injury. Otherwise, the team is unchanged with Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez, and Nicolas Lodiero manning the front lines.

For Japan, there is still plenty riding on this match as well despite their poor start. The Asian side can still qualify for the knockout stage in a number of ways, including one of two third-place slots. Still, they need points for that to happen and with each of the other two groups sporting third-place teams that have picked up points, Japan is behind the eight ball.

LINEUPS

Uruguay: Muslera; Caceres, Godin, Giminez, Laxalt; Nandez, Betancur, Torreira; Lodeiro, Cavani, Suarez.
Bench: Campana, Silva, Coates, G Gonzalez, Saracchi, Valverde, Arrascaeta, Pereiro, J Rodriguez, Stuani, M Gomez.

Japan: Kawashima, Sugioka, Itakura, Ueda, Tomiyasu, Shibasaki, Nakajima, Miyoshi, Shinji Okazaki, Iwata, Hiroki Abe.
Bench: Nakayama, Suga, Matsumoto, Tatsuta, Hara, Osako, Kubo, Kojima, Ito, Ueda, Watanabe, Maeda.